The early end to subsidies for onshore wind farms could cost the Scottish economy £3bn in lost investment, according to Scottish Renewables.
The decision to close the Renewables Obligation across Great Britain to new onshore generation stations from 1 April 2016 was announced yesterday by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc). The scheme was originally scheduled to end in 2017.
A grace period has been granted for the 5.2GW of onshore developments that have planning consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance, as well as evidence of land rights. However, it is estimated that there are around 3,000 turbine locations still awaiting planning consent.
Decc said in a statement: “In 2014, over £800M of government subsidies helped onshore wind to generate 5% of the UK’s total electricity, with the high volume of onshore wind either deployed or in the pipeline meaning that the UK is well on the way to meeting its climate change targets.”
Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said that government’s decision to close the Renewables Obligation a year earlier than planned is “bad for jobs, bad for investment and can only hinder Scotland and the UK’s efforts to meet binding climate change targets”.
He said: “Scottish Renewables completely rejects the UK Government’s rationale for cutting support for onshore wind.
“We believe this decision could put around 2GW of onshore wind projects in Scotland at risk. These are projects that could provide the equivalent electricity demand of 1.23M Scottish homes and significantly improve our energy security, while bringing around £3bn of investment.
Also reacting to the news Alan Watt, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association in Scotland, said: “This is extremely bad news for Scottish communities and Scotland’s civil engineering sector which have been working to an orderly programme of renewables projects based on a well- established subsidy schedule.
“Notwithstanding the effects on renewable targets, we agree wholeheartedly with the Scottish Government that this early withdrawal of support will have a serious impact on Scottish businesses and jobs, particularly in remote areas where alternative employment is hard to come by, and we call upon the UK Government to reverse this decision and reinstate the original timetable.”